I'm glad to welcome my friend Christine Poulson as a guest contributor to this blog, with a charming personal story. Christine is very good company in person and also a very good novelist with whom to spend time. I'm pleased to say that her new book, Invisible, published by Accent Press, is now available in paperback and as an ebook (the latter is an especial bargain) As you will see, the starting premise of the story is a gripping one. Over to you, Chrissie....
‘Had a good break over the summer?’
‘Great, thanks, spent three weeks touring the cemeteries of southern Sweden.’
‘Oh . . . lovely . . .’
It was, too. I was accompanying my husband who was researching a book on the great Swedish architect, Gunnar Aspland, designer of, among other things, the Woodland Cemetery in Stockholm, a World Heritage Site.
I came home knowing that I wanted to set at least part of a novel in Sweden. As a young art historian I had been more drawn to Italy and France and was late coming to Scandinavia. With my blue eyes and with a name like Poulson, I almost certainly have a Viking or two among my ancestors. Perhaps that’s why I felt an immediate affinity with Sweden and fell in love with Stockholm.
There was another memorable aspect to the trip: in our seven years of marriage this was the first time my husband and I had spent three weeks alone together. When we met he was a widower with two children and we had been a family right from the start. Holidays had been great fun, but busy and full of distractions. On this trip there was plenty of time for ideas to start bubbling over: the long midsummer days, nights that were barely more than twilight, the hours on the road, the waiting while my husband took photographs . . .
The character of Lisa began to form in my imagination, a woman who was only ever alone with her lover. No-one knew about him and she saw him for a week-end only once a month. The novel would begin when he failed to show up.
I was already committed to writing the third in my Cassandra James series and it was a few years before I got round to writing Invisible. By then I knew why Lisa’s lover had to vanish and why it would be so dangerous for her to search for him.
Invisible is a novel that for many reasons is close to my heart and it all began on that wonderful trip.
Great, how nice to find Chrissie on your blog today Martin. And I can give an unrestrained rave review for Invisible - I thought it was a great thriller. And the scenes in, and the information about, the Swedish cemetery was fascinating.
I have Christine's new book on the bedside table in the TBR pile and it's nearing the top ...
Invisible is a great read, I could hardly put it down. Thank you for the insight into how the story began.
Martin, thanks for Christine’s guest blog about her new novel. Rarely is the story-behind-the-story given so charmingly and enticingly as here. Her short story ‘Don’t You Hate Having Two Heads’ in your 2006 CWA anthology ‘I.D. Crimes of Identity’ impressed me with the quality of writing and subtle manipulation of reader expectations. Now I’ve acquired ‘Invisible’ in the Kindle edition (a bargain indeed!) and look forward to reading it on holiday.
Right, Invisible is next on my list. Be good to read something that has a strong setting and menace lurking...
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